Texas Floods Cancel GA Events; Rescue Flights Continue


The catastrophic floods in Texas have not only scrubbed weekend GA events at airports in the state, they’ve changed the landscape from summer recreation to disaster relief. Redbird Skyport in San Marcos, Texas, said Saturday’s Bluebonnet Fly-Inhas been postponed until June 6, and it will now be a fundraiser for area flood victims.Proceeds from fuel sales will go tothe Hays County Salvation Army.John Koenreich, general manager for Skyport, told AVweb Friday the airport escaped damage from the floods and has been transformed into a command center for search and rescue missions along the Blanco River, where hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged. Helicopters from local police, the National Guard and individuals have been flying sunup to sundown all week to search for missing people, he said. They’ve been able to fuel up at Skyport and do their work just a few miles away. “The Skyport ended up being the perfect location,” Koenreich said. Amid the devastation, it has been an opportunity for GA to show its capabilities and raise awareness of the San Marcos airport, which most residents aren’t aware of, he said. “Imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have this here.”

Further southwest at the Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport, severe storms damaged structures and aircraft as well as the roof of the airport’s terminal building. The Ladies Love Taildraggers three-day fly-in/splash-inslated for this weekendhas been cancelled, according to the organization’s website. Bad weather continued through the week; Thursday night’s heavy storms resulted in rainfall records reported by media outlets around Texas. More storms are forecast for the region this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, unmanned aerial systems dispatched by a research program in Texas are busy conducting flights over the hard-hit areas in Hays County. A team from the Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence & Innovation at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is in Wimberley to search for people, animals and vehicles and perform damage assessments. The UAS, equipped with cameras, thermal imaging equipment and sensors, include an AscTec Falcon 8 provided by HUVRData of Austin, a senseFly eBee provided by Urban Engineering of Corpus Christi, and a DJI Phantom from A&M-Corpus Christi’s iCORE Lab and the University’s College of Science and Engineering. The research “will assist in determining the process for use of UAS as a rapid-response tool in natural emergencies and the value of operating at 200 feet or less for aerial surveillance under such conditions,” said Jerry Hendrix, chief engineer for the center and leader of the research team.